The number of heavy-duty truck and bus mechanics and diesel specialists rose at nearly twice the rate as all U.S. occupations from May 2012 to May 2013, according to data released April 1 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, the number of automotive service mechanics and technicians increased at nearly twice the rate of truck and bus mechanics and diesel specialists. The data is included in the annual Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, which represents a snapshot as of May 2013.
Employment among truck and bus mechanics and diesel specialists rose 3.5% to more than 238,000, according to the BLS survey. The number of automotive service mechanics and technicians jumped 7.0% to nearly 605,000. By comparison, employment nationwide was up just 1.8% to 132.59 million. Employment for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers also rose by 1.8%. An aging fleet in both commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles likely has much to do with the sharp increases in employment levels.
The continuing recovery in construction may help explain the driver availability problem in trucking. Most notable was a 27.8% jump in the number of construction equipment operators between May 2012 and May 2013. The number of construction laborers was up 5.9%, and employment for all construction trades workers increased 2.4%. Despite the higher demand for technicians and construction workers, wages did not increase sharply. The largest increase in average annual wages for those groups was 2.3% for automotive technicians and mechanics.